Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with creating a manifesto reflecting wonders, curiosities, and delights currently captivating me – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
W is for…
wyobraźnia – (n) Polish word meaning imagination; fancy; vision; the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.
(audio of pronunciation can be found here)
I’m not Polish, nor do I speak the language, so you may wondering why I’ve chosen a Polish word for my manifesto. But remember the entire point of this manifesto is to reflect wonders, curiosities, and delights currently captivating me, and this word represents that for me in spades.
If you’re a word lover perhaps you’ve had the experience of pure delight when a new word finds you. For me, with some words, this can be amplified exponentially. I get a little tingle of excitement; a felt sense that this new word and I are going to be good friends, and like in all good new relationships there is that little sense of wonder of what universal magic actually brought us into each other’s orbit.
I was sitting in a waiting room, and being told that things were running a bit behind schedule, I pulled out a book – a book of poems by Wislawa Szymborska. Szymborska was a Polish poet and essayist, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.
As I was settling in for a read, another woman waiting, remarked that she was a great fan of Szymborska and asked what I thought. I guessed from her accent and how she pronounced the poet’s name that she was Polish, and I mentioned that I had trouble, like so many other Americans I imagine, pronouncing Wislawa Szymborska’s name correctly.
She laughed and said she thought it was because clearly American English lacked imagination – we didn’t know how to arrange letters in exciting pairings. She said we lacked wyobraźnia. Needless to say I was smitten. What a delightful and extraordinary thing to say. I had her spell the word for me, and then just like that, she was called for her appointment, I for mine, and the encounter was over.
And yet I came away with a fabulous word, gifted to me in a rather curious fashion, and so of course it belongs in my manifesto.
Szymborska herself had a few things to say about imagination.
“Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination…Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem that they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know’.”
I seriously love these wise words of her’s as well:
“Any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life.”
I think imagination is a very undervalued thing in our society. We offer a little leeway to artists and children, but in general the realm of imagination isn’t a place we’re encouraged to visit at length. Quick forays there only, if that.
But I think there can be no doubt that imagination stimulates creativity and innovation. Doesn’t our world, collectively and individually, need us to imagine kinder, more peaceful, more inclusive solutions? Don’t we need our imagination to truly reach into the magic of all we can become? I certainly think so.
I am a devotee of wyobraźnia, and all the expansive possibilities our imagining invites.
What about you? Are you exercising your imagination? Do you celebrate the arrival of fabulous new words into your world? Do tell – you know I love to hear.